Monday Motivation: Tips on Competing Priorities

By Loralyn Mears PhD Loralyn Mears PhD has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on August 17, 2020

Monday motivation, we need it, stat! Egad, it’s almost Tuesday but that’s kind of the whole point behind today’s column. We recently featured prioritization and it was so popular, we’ve extended our list of tips offered. Here’s a pick-me-up to launch your week on the right foot.

And, to be transparent, today was that kind of day. I didn’t want to disappoint my VIP clients who had unexpected work for me today. But, I also couldn’t shirk my responsibilities and loyalties to you, my readers, and to the editors here. So, can we agree on “better late than never?!”

Studies show that your morning mood affects your productivity all day. Grit Daily is here to get your work week off to a good start. Pump your fists – it’s time for Monday motivation!

Tough Choices

Things in real life don’t always work out the way that we plan. Or like those simulations in software demonstration for project management solutions where everything, as it’s due, gets completed and checked off all tickety-boo. That’s why today’s Monday motivation column is dedicated to prioritization.

Everyday, each of us is faced with hundreds of little decisions. For most of us, only a small handful are actually consequential at the end of the day. The others? Minor annoyances or decisions so trivial and common that we barely even notice them at all.

Should I get another cup of tea? Now or after I make that call? I think that I’ll answer that email tomorrow … wait, should I even bother replying? We’re engaged in a seemingly endless internal monologue as we continuously to make decisions regarding what tasks (or not) should occupy our time.

Prioritization is a soft skill that has become increasingly important as our lives are subjected to a growing number of daily distractions. Those interruptions are largely digital (i.e. social media) and largely subject to our control. However, self-agency is the disciplined skill that’s often lacking. We know that we should get back to our project but we’re lulled into the mindlessness of scrolling through our Instagram feeds for just long enough until we feel guilty (our moral compass and ethics kick in here) which triggers the thought that we should get back to the job we’re being paid or tasked to do.

Monday motivation tips to prioritize better

Without hourly deadlines, how do you prioritize what has to get done first? Then next? Some people become paralyzed by their inability to prioritize when they have too many tasks on their plate. That feeling of being overwhelmed can send us spinning into a panic, spiraling into depression or render us wholly ineffective and unable to do anything. Monday motivation here we go! Here’s a few tips that can help you feel less overwhelmed and more in control of what tasks you’ve been assigned along with those that you’ve self-assigned.  

#1 – keep it simple; is it urgent or important?

Sometimes, the delineation between “urgent” versus “important” is pretty blurry. At other times, it seems that there are dozens of To Do’s and they’re all urgent. The reality is more likely that there are a couple of urgent items, a dozen important ones and tens of little naggy things that aren’t all that important. But we’re goal oriented as a species, so we think about them because we want to complete them and mentally check them off the list so that the cease to occupy headspace.

Some coaches advocate for complex matrices to categorize and tag every task that you have. However, the majority favor a simpler, “less is more” approach to prioritization: even the matrix we proposed a couple of months ago was over-the-top for some of our readers. So, let’s simplify things.

On the topic of priorities, if it’s important to you, you’ll find a way. If it’s not, you’ll find an excuse. ~Anonymous

Make a list of your To Do’s. Write them down as quickly as you can. After about a minute or so, stop adding to the list. That’s enough for now! Then, evaluate each task one by one, is it urgent? Highlight it or mark it with an asterisk or a “U.”

If you’ve gone through your list and more than half are marked as “urgent,” then do the exercise again. But this time, you only get to mark three (3) items as urgent. That is prioritization right there!

#2 – if you’re feeling overwhelmed, communicate

Talk to a colleague first. Perhaps s/he/them has a little extra time this week and can lend a hand to get you over the hump. If not, go to your boss and explain that this week is super crazy with everything hitting at once and see if there is any latitude with respect to what you’re on the hook for now. When it comes to communicating that message with clients, that’s a whole lot tougher.

Of course, you don’t want to disappoint them, but you don’t want to deliver crap either which is likely the outcome if you work through the night to hit the deliverable. The reality is that just about everyone has experienced a time crunch before. And, for the most part, people have some level of empathy and tolerance for flexibility with due dates.

Ask! You never know … but here’s a bonus tip. Don’t play the “time crunch card” more than a couple of times per year.

#3 – slay the beast

Some people call it the “20% task” whereas others refer to it as the “nasty frog” that you have to choke down once you stop procrastinating long enough to do so. Metaphors that all refer to the same thing. There is always one BIG behemoth of a To Do on our lists.

It’s the beast that we want to avoid fighting but we won’t be free until we slay it. Attack it first thing whenever you begin your workday. Knock it out and the sense of euphoria you’ll feel after declaring victory over the task will boost your productivity for hours into the day – giving you plenty enough “extra” juice in the tank to cross off several other items.

Extra bits

If you like podcasts, well, wouldn’t you know, we’ve got those, too! Three of them, in fact: 1) Like a Boss with snappy insights; 2) wine down and chill; and 3) Monday motivation. All three are available on all streaming channels including Apple, iHeart Radio, Spotify and more. Tune in! Finally, if you like my writing, check out my new novel, The Battle for Humanity, it’s a thriller you won’t be able to put down.

Monday motivation podcast – 5 minutes of quick tips

Have a fabulous rest of your week!

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels


By Loralyn Mears PhD Loralyn Mears PhD has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Journalist verified by Muck Rack verified

Dr. Loralyn Mears is a Columnist at Grit Daily and a podcast host (The Grit Files, which aims to shine the spotlight on female founders). She is a content marketer, founder of the WORKtech startup, STEERus, specializing in personal and professional development to address gaps in soft skills - communication in particular. In her consultancy practice, she helps clients with content and strategy. Loralyn spent over a decade playing with mosquito DNA, got her PhD, decided she would rather market science than be at the bench and has never looked back. Along the way, she’s wined and dined her way around the globe. She's authored two books, including the 2018 Gold Medal Indie Book award-winning, One Sip At a Time: a Memoir and the hard science thriller, "The Battle for Humanity: How Science Saved Us." 

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